VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) – On this Veterans Day, the University of South Dakota dedicated a special place to honor those who have served our country.
For years to come, students and visitors on the USD campus can enjoy Patriots Plaza, a memorial set up to honor veterans.
“It’s an awesome gift, I think, to the veterans of USD. It’s a phenomenal way of acknowledging their service and it’s going to be a permanent presence there,” 2004 USD alumnus Major Chris Mercado said.
The plaza features the American, South Dakota, POW/MIA and USD flags. Plaques in the center honor three USD alumni Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. The symbols of each military branch are displayed and a marker indicating 100 years of Army ROTC at USD.
“As a student here in 2004, I wish we had had something like this where I could walk by and see every day. Not only recognizing the service of veterans past, but also thinking and reflecting on the service that I’m about to embark on,” Mercado said.
“The men and women that are on the plaza that are dedicated today, they walked these grounds just like all these other students did,” USD military science professor Lt. Col. Dan Sundberg said.
Lieutenant Colonel Dan Sundberg, a military science professor at USD, says the plaza helps veterans feel like they have a home on campus.
“It’s a place for us to go reflect. War is nasty business with, you know, a lot of trauma and damage so to come here to like this really peaceful, serene place,” Sundberg said.
“A small percentage of the American population chooses to serve and chooses to represent our armed forces. So I hope that students take a moment to stop and think about those in harms way around the world because every day around the world, we do have soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines choosing to serve their country in the line of fire, in harm’s way, every day,” Mercado said.
U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson spoke at the dedication of the plaza today as well as a representative for U.S. Senator John Thune.